The brainchild of Chef La-niece Lyew, a Brooklyn native whose ethnic background is part Jamaican and part Chinese, she named the restaurant after Milk River in Clarendon, Jamaica — a popular hot springs and mineral spa.
My girlfriend and I had the opportunity to visit their popular family friendly ‘Sunday Brunch Series, hosted by Kitchen Cray’s renowned chef, James “Chef JR.” Robinson, from season 13 of the Hell’s Kitchen reality cooking show. We were seated with two other ladies from the press, one a big exec from VH1!
Our food was absolutely delicious. We started with the deviled eggs and Caribbean salt-Cod fritters, which were heavenly, followed by the steak and eggs and shrimp n’grits. Though I am not a fan of grits, my girlfriend got me to try hers and voilà, my taste buds exploded in ecstasy! My steak was prepared exactly as I’d asked for, and Chef JR even came to introduce himself to us all personally.
Not only fine cuisine, but a definite cool vibe exudes from this hip n’funky new place. Their DJ was great, and they even had one of my 80s favorites, Beat Street, playing on the huge projection screen TV behind the bar (gotta love Rae Dawn Chong).
Located on a nondescript industrial bock, just down the block from the Barclay’s Center, Milk River’s bi-level restaurant, bar, and lounge is a virtual Crown Heights neighborhood oasis that definitely deserves a visit.
– Michael Riegelman
More about MILK RIVER:
Milk River is a Brooklyn neighborhood restaurant featuring a Caribbean/Asian inspired cuisine incorporating Chef/Owner La-Niece’s Jamaican and Chinese background.
Their goal is to serve remarkable dishes and cocktails. Their menu and refreshments meet the highest standards of quality, freshness and seasonality and combines both modern-creative and traditional styles of cooking. Their mission is to consistently provide their guests with impeccable service by demonstrating warmth, graciousness, efficiency, knowledge, professionalism and integrity in their work, and to have every guest who comes through their doors leave impressed by their employees and excited to come back again, and to be a giving member of the Brooklyn community in which they serve!
Chef/Owner LA-NIECE LYEW
Like scores of creative types and entrepreneurs, Milk River Chef/Owner La-Niece Lyew was born and raised in Brooklyn — and she’s always had a strong passion for food and cooking. Being of Asian and Jamaican background, Lyew grew up in a household enjoying the best of two very different culinary worlds and flavor palettes. Her early experiences in her home kitchen consisted primarily of crafting Caribbean fares. Guided by her mother and grandmother, she’s been cooking and perfecting traditional Jamaican dishes.
As she got older, Lyew had a desire to fine-tune her skills, develop a professional approach to food, and turn her passion into a career. She enrolled in the French Culinary Institute, where she learned the art and technique of fine dining. Graduating with honors she then worked with Chef Chris Beischer of Jean George’s NYC Mercer Kitchen and acclaimed chef King Phojanakon of Umi Nom and Kuma Inn, where she developed her knowledge of and skills for cooking pan-Asian fares. It was through these opportunities she met her mentor, Chef Soulayphet Schwader.
All of her experiences to date have given Chef Lyew the expertise and know-how to incorporate both sides of her ethnic heritage into a culinary language that is uniquely her own, and she looks forward to sharing these new and exciting flavors with diners. “My dream has always been to open a restaurant in the city where I was born and raised,” Lyew says. “I want to create the sort of atmosphere where family and friends can gather to have a great meal, and a relaxing, fun time.”As the Executive Chef and Founder of Milk River, La-Niece aims to foster a restaurant that people can count on for quality food and a tranquil environment.